I cannot believe that I have not yet written about this: the cookbook entitled “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” written by one of my favorite chefs, Samin Nosrat.
It’s a cult-favorite book with hundreds of pages of recipes and lessons that are full of whimsical illustrations that make the book come to life. You can almost smell the drawings of cheese, sauces and produce on each page.
This cookbook is a game changer. While, yes, it includes quite a few recipes, the main idea of the book is to teach the reader not only what to cook, but howto cook. The title comes from Nosrat’s idea that those are the four main components of good cooking — salt, fat, acid and heat, each one no more or less important than the last.
She dedicates a section of the book to each of these aspects, and explains to the reader in simple yet thorough terms why each of these things matters in cooking, what variations there are of each and how each type affects the other ingredients in the dish.
Instead of just giving the reader a list of ingredients to buy and steps that must be followed to a T, she gives the reader information about a variety of different ingredients and lets them decide for themselves how they should be used in a dish. That is why I love this cookbook.
If you are looking to learn howto cook without actually signing up for a class, this book is the way to do it.
Samin also has a Netflix docuseries with the same title where she dedicates each episode to one of the four components of good cooking, filming in a different part of the world for every episode.
It’s a beautiful way to demonstrate that her ideas do not necessarily follow traditional Western European cooking, which (for some reason) has been deemed the world’s standard of cooking, but rather that every culture’s cuisine includes these same methods and they are all good. Every culture has food that should be recognized for its quality and should not be overlooked simply because it does not originate from French cuisine.
Sure, they say that cookbooks are now obsolete because of Pinterest, food blogs and all of those great Tasty videos on Facebook. However, it is difficult to find real cooking lessons that teach you about the ingredients and flavors themselves and how to create your own dishes rather than how to make a single dish.
It is for this reason that I highly recommend you all check out the book “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”or, at the very least, check out the Netflix docuseries.
Nosrat has an appreciation for food and quality ingredients that is typically unheard of. Moreover, she conveys her ideas to her readers and viewers in a way that inevitably changes their views about food as well. I promise that you will put down that book or TV remote with an understanding of ingredients and cooking that you have never had before.
It will leave you thinking critically about each ingredient that goes into your food, including why it should be there and how it changes the dish; you will learn so much more than you ever could using a standard cookbook or recipe from Pinterest, so please check it out!
Lauren Adams is a senior studying Spanish and political science with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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